Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

My mother’s support for Trump has divided our family. Then I found the crack in her MAGA armor.

My mother’s support for Trump has divided our family.  Then I found the crack in her MAGA armor.

The Trump presidency has torn my family apart. The “Trump Effect,” as I called it, infected us shortly after he descended into the lobby of Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the presidency. It ended seven years later, around the kitchen table, with three generations of my mother’s offspring working their way through Italian food. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My mother was a Reagan Republican and has voted along party lines since 1980. Although none of her four children have fully aligned with her politically, the Trump Effect has created the greatest distance between my mother mine and me

We argued every time we spoke. Before Trump got the nomination, I argued that his morals were in direct conflict with the ones she and my father had drilled into my head for decades. Besides, I argued, he didn’t even embody conservative values. It turned them into grotesque manipulations of what had been reasonably good politics.

I begged her not to vote for him. She wouldn’t budge. In the wake of his choice, her choice took on the weight of a betrayal. Her blindness to Trump’s white nationalist tendencies was an affront to my wife, who is a proud Latina, and infuriated my biracial, high school children.

The more blatant Trump’s violation of social norms, the harder he has dug in his heels. In northern Idaho, her political views went largely unchallenged. Her trips to Eastern Washington gave her an opportunity to proselytize and be heard. Any poker table has become her pulpit as she expounds the virtues of the GOP’s new savior. After gaining respect through her poker skills, she changed people’s minds.

At one point, after the Mueller investigation, she was so self-assured that she stopped responding to challenges or questions from people on the left. We stopped talking about anything except superficial questions about my life and detailed reports about her current ailments. I longed for a return to our political discourse. He never came.

She voted for Trump again in 2020, but didn’t buy into the “big lie” that he won the election with anything close to a landslide. She defended her candidate-elect’s honor afterward, but her Ultra MAGA armor began to crack when Trump’s attacks were directed at Republican icons like Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and the Bush dynasty. Then, January 6, 2021, shook the foundation of her political stronghold. The damage was considerable and lasting.

I was not with my mother for the explosive violence of the insurrection that day. But our family has always been patriotic. My father served in General Patton’s honor guard during the Korean War. We raised the flag, sang the anthem and respected servicemen and women. My mother and I shed patriotic tears on January 6, 2021, and although of course from very different places, the tears flowed into the same river. We both knew that the America we loved had been significantly diminished by the relentless attacks of a small percentage of Americans eager to define the world by their petty grievances and perceived injustices.

I did not re-engage in the political discourse with my mother, despite an obvious opening for a shooter. The sadness that surrounded her settled in like a thick fog. Surprisingly, her depressed mood was less about Trump’s defeat and more about her own stupidity in believing that Trump was a hero and a savior. As for me, I couldn’t even muster an “I told you so.”

Sixteen months later, I was having dinner with my mom and some news about Trump came on the screen. She shook her head in slight disgust. I had not planned what would happen next, although I had fantasized about this “intervention” countless times.

Taking a deep breath, I gathered my courage and began to speak. “Mom, I’m going to ask you a huge favor, something that might be jarring at first, but please stick with it.” She started to speak, but I held up a finger, begging her to listen.

My voice was shaky and weak when I started, but it grew confident as the memory of each of Trump’s atrocities replayed in my mind—his near-constant appeal to our worst instincts, his undisguised racism and Islamophobia, and his blaming anyone and anything but this. se. I was hot by the time I got to the point of my rant, asking what I think is the most important question I’ll ever ask my mom: “Are you going to apologize to my kids for voting for Trump?”

I continued: “My fear is that when Trump is seen through a clear, objective lens, your support for him will define you.”

A few days later, my mother, aka G-Ma and Grams, sat at the head of a round table. At 92, he was still larger than life and a commanding presence. There was no need to attract the attention of those gathered. At her first syllable, heads turned and phones were silenced. She would hold the camera until she decided not to.

Before saying our traditional grace, she stood up and the room came to attention. She took a moment to calm down and with her confidence said, “I want to apologize.” Looking around the table, she didn’t flinch. “I made a terrible mistake by voting for Trump. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have voted for him. I hope you will forgive me.” And it was done.

There was a collective sigh of relief when he released our attention and a laugh when he said, “It wasn’t that hard.” We hugged and I whispered my thanks as we hugged. “Let’s eat,” she said. And I began: “Bless us our Lord and these gifts of Yours…”

In the months that followed, I chose to continue the moratorium on political discourse and opted instead to explore our common ground—which, I discovered, is fertile and vast and refreshingly friendly. Trump’s recent conviction on 34 felonies affirmed that her divorce from MAGA and Trump was the right choice.

My children’s wounds began to heal. They forgave her, and through them my grandchildren will too. In the end, the “intervention” I staged was a gift, a kind of plan for a shared time. She showed us how to admit you’re wrong in a world where it seems like everyone has to be right. This is the real result, the core of the truth, I hope it will grow and prosper.

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